Who Do You Say That I Am? Christology and the Church

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Who Do You Say That I Am? Christology and the Church. Edited by Donald Armstrong. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999. xvi + 143 pp. $20.00 (cloth).

At a recent conference, a New Testament professor who teaches at a seminary tried to persuade me that the Apostle Paul had no knowledge of the story of Jesus' life beyond the crucifixion, and that Mark invented his narrative, rather than drawing on prior oral traditions. It is one thing for the wider public to think that the Jesus Seminar represents cutting edge historical scholarship. It is another thing entirely when seminaries start teaching the stuff The theological community needs to take a stand against the current portrait of Jesus as a wandering hippie who talked in riddles. Theologians need to reclaim historical scholarship in the service of both the Church and the truth.

As the Rev. Donald Armstrong points out in the preface of this book, much of the current quest for the historical Jesus seems to be answering the question, "Who would you like me to be?" rather than "Who do you say that I am?" This volume, which publishes papers delivered in 1998 at the sixth international Anglican Institute in Paris, is a worthy response to current fads in Jesus research. The contributors come to the issue of Christology from a traditional theological perspective, yet they are convinced that their positions make more rational sense than pictures of Jesus as a Stoic sage or militant rebel. The essays here are not technical in nature, although they are uniformly wise and informative. They are pitched to an audience of educated laity.

Christopher D. Hancock sets the tone for this volume by providing an overview of the Christological problem. It is a problem, as he says, not of what we make of Jesus but of what he makes of us. Richard Reid next makes the case for a Christology grounded in the Bible. While the Reformers wanted to prevent people from believing too much, we are in danger, he notes, of believing too little, and thus we need to base our portrait of Jesus on a full and robust reading of the biblical narrative.

N. T. Wright's contribution is both a helpful summation and clarification of his thought for those who have not had the time to work through his large volumes on the topic. …

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